Book Review: SleeveNotes by Bob Stanley (Pomona)
Music aficionado and Saint Etienne founder member, Bob Stanley fuses his own personal history with a passion for music in the first of a series of books released by Pomona entitled SleeveNotes.
Bob is up front and honest when he comments in the opening chapter that his SleeveNotes is neither a memoir nor a Saint Etienne lyric book. Instead he has pieced together, chronologically, 13 key music moments that inspired him, as a non-musician, to write his own pieces, spread across several Saint Etienne albums.
What I like most of all about Bob Stanley’s SleeveNotes is that you don’t necessarily have to have a deep-rooted knowledge or passion for everything Saint Etienne has released to enjoy it.
Anyone who has collected records will love Bob Stanley’s colourful descriptions of the events, people and places that helped him put together his own vinyl collection and in turn inspired his own creative writing processes.
Like a slightly faded Polaroid, Bob Stanley recalls trips to his Grandparents Hove sweet shop and how his Grandmother would buy him a clutch of scratchy sleeveless 45s from a junk shop, before rehousing them in customised sweet bags. There’s also a greasy-haired biker “uncle” with a passion for Buddy Holly, who gave Bob his first Beatles album.
If you recall spending Saturday’s thumbing through scratchy 45s on market stalls or longing for the extra few pounds to purchase a mint Elvis reissue, you’ll identify with Bob’s trips to Beano’s, the legendary record store to spend hard-earned money on hard to find 45s. To locate these music gems stacked alphabetically in Schweppes boxes, he recounts how he had to gain the help and confidence of the record stores stringy-bearded gatekeeper who had a deep-rooted dislike for Roy Orbison. A real character indeed!
There are echoes of realism and situation comedy for anyone who recalls a pre-digital music age, when to have both Simple Minds and Billy Fury on your own personal playlist, you had to locate the releases yourself. Record collecting was (and still is) a lot of fun! Thankyou Bob for reminding us!
SleeveNotes by Bob Stanley is £7.99 and published by Pomona